Jewish Journal


October 13, 2009

Now What - Rabbi Barry Gelman


Now What….?

Now that all the “bells and whistles” of the high Holidays and Sukkot are gone, what will be of our spiritual journey? There is a lot that attracts us to synagogue during the month of Tishrei. With the excitement of Rosh Hashana, the awe of Yom Kippur and the joy of Sukkot amnd simchat Torah behind us, what will serve as the attraction to shul and renewed Jewish commitment.

I have a radical answer to this question. Judaism.

Morethodoxy should be characterized by passion for Torah and Tefilla. When one is passionate about something, they do not need external factors in order to act. Passion is self starting.

Instilling passion for Torah and Teffila in our community is a difficult task. Perhapos we can start by looking at our brothers and sisters to the right of us. Our ideological differences are real and ultimately they come to the question of what sort of Avodat Hashem – service if God –  is preferred, but there are things we can learn from that community.

Here are the words of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein: “Is our commitment to Talmud torah truly as deep as that of the Right, but only modified in practice by the need to pursue other values? Do our students devote as much time and effort to talmud torah, minus only that needed to acquire culture or build a state? Comparisons aside, let us deal with educational issues: What has all the time wasted on television, the inordinate vacations, a system of religious public schools in Israel which shuts down at one or two in the afternoon, to do with culture or Zionism.[1]”

While part Rabbi Lichtenstein’s critique is leveled against the Israeli system, much of what he says rings true for the America community as well.

Morethodoxy needs this type of chshbon hanefesh – soul searching- if we wish to thrive.

The months between Simchat Torah and Chanukah and then from Chanukah to Purim and Pesach are bereft of external attractions to Judaism. Passion for Judaism itself and “its moral beauty and spiritual grace[2]” should be enough to inspire us.

[1] By His Light. Addresses by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, pg 242

[2] A Letter In A Scroll.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, pg 24

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